PROSSER -- When Kenzie Koch went to Florida for a travel ball tournament in January, the Prosser senior infielder knew it might be her last chance to impress Division I college scouts.
She made the most of it, snaring an opportunity to visit the University at Buffalo.
"It was completely random," said Koch, a club player for the Washington Explosion 18 Gold. "The coach just happened to see me playing. I didn't even know there was a University (at) Buffalo, but I was considering the East Coast."
After meeting the coaches and players in February on the Buffalo campus, Koch believed it was the right place for her. Last Wednesday, she signed her letter of intent, though the moment was a bit nerve-wracking.
"There was no breathing going on," Koch said. "I was shaking like crazy in front of the TV camera. I'm pretty sure I almost cried. I was a wreck. But after that, it was like, 'I got this.' "
Koch was recruited as a utility player, and she expects to play middle infield or outfield for the Bulls, who are in the Mid-American Conference.
Prosser coach Scott Coleman said Koch's natural talent and work ethic will help her succeed in D-I. Koch was voted Most Inspirational in her freshman year and a team MVP the next two seasons. As a sophomore, she made the all-state second team, and last spring she hit .603 with seven home runs.
"She just keeps pushing," Coleman said. "She's willing to sacrifice and do whatever it takes to achieve these goals."
That includes moving almost 2,500 miles from home, but West Coast schools, especially those in California, can afford to be selective.
"It's warmer and you get a lot of girls who are really good and have been playing since they were 2 years old," said Koch, who had thought about attending Division III George Fox University or Columbia Basin College. "Those schools have a crop to pick from, so the east side is more open and into the recruiting."
Meanwhile, one of Koch's club teammates will head to the NWAACC after graduation.
Othello senior infielder Alyssa Martinez recently signed with perennial East Region powerhouse Walla Walla Community College. Martinez is a three-time all-CWAC pick.
So far, it looks as though Connell has a good shot at defending its Class 1A state championship next month at Columbia Playfield.
Junior ace Ashley Thompson continues to mow down batters, and the offense has generated some jaw-dropping numbers, such as 72 runs in a doubleheader against La Salle.
"We're actually pretty deep in our hitting now," Connell coach Andy Sawyer said. "We're more deep probably than normal. We're pretty diverse. Savannah Egbert's a slapper, and she's hitting home runs. We have up to five slappers in the lineup."
There is extra incentive for the Eagles to reach the state tournament because it will be held less than an hour from Connell. But if they make it back, Sawyer does not want a repeat of their 2007 trip to Moses Lake.
The Eagles didn't stay in a hotel because the drive was only about 50 miles, so they had to be on the bus before 6 a.m. after a late game the night before.
"We want to make sure everyone's rested up real well," Sawyer said. "The home team shouldn't be on a bus ride the whole time. It is nice to play at home, even though we love playing in Spokane."
That's where the Eagles won their state title last year, rolling through the 1A bracket.
This spring, the tournament will move back to the Tri-Cities. TRAC in Pasco hosted the event in 2009 and 2010.
Reshuffling the schedule
Several pre-spring break conference doubleheaders that were called off because of rain have been rescheduled.
Richland will head to Moses Lake on April 24 for a matchup that was supposed to open CBBN 4A play.
CBBN 3A leader Kamiakin will welcome Sunnyside to Lawrence Scott Park on Thursday.
In the CWAC, Toppenish will host Quincy on May 1. In the SCAC East, Mabton will visit Wahluke on April 24 and Royal on May 8.